Canada has rolled out a new open work permit scheme to attract foreign students - a move that may lure away Indian students from their favourite destinations like the US, Britain and Australia.
Under the new scheme, announced by the Canadian government Thursday, foreign students going to Canada will now be able to get an open work permit under a post-graduate programme, with virtually no restrictions on the type of employment and no requirement of a job offer.
Previously, international students were allowed to work for one or two years, depending on location.
The duration of the work permit has been increased to three years to ensure easier employment opportunities to target foreign students in an increasingly competitive global education market.
"The government of Canada wants more foreign students to choose Canada," Canada's Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Diane Finley said in a statement, released by the Canadian High Commission here.
"Open and longer work permits provide international students with more opportunities for Canadian work experience… This will help make Canada a destination of choice, and help us keep international students already studying in Canada," the minister added.
Canada is not a preferred destination for Indian students, but the last decade has seen a spurt in interest in Canadian universities.
A total of 5,700 Indian students were studying in Canada in 2007 while 2,531 study permits were issued to Indians that year. This was a big jump from 339 Indian students who went to Canada in 1997.
Over 80,000 Indian students study in the US, forming the largest number of foreign students in that country. Around 19,000 Indian students went to Britain last year.
India has emerged as a battleground for foreign universities looking for bright students. British universities rolling out their education roadshows for Indian students and the US easing visa procedures to sustain the flow of the "best and brightest" shows that none of these countries want to lose out in the race.
Canada has crafted this new scheme to address severe shortage of skilled personnel that is affecting the global competitiveness of its economy.
"As we move toward the implementation of the Canadian Experience Class, these changes will help create a pool of individuals who, with work experience, will find it easier to apply to immigrate to Canada," said the Canadian minister.
"Our ability to retain international graduates with Canadian qualifications, work experience and familiarity with Canadian society, will help increase our competitiveness and benefit Canada as a whole," said the minister.